By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
NEWLY merged Alphington and Countess Wear CC have asked James Bogue to skipper them in their first season as a Tolchards Devon League club.
Bogue, who is 39, had two five-year stints as Countess Wear captain before family commitments got in the way of his cricket. Three years on he is back in harness.
As both clubs have had to cope with upheaval and uncertainty in recent seasons, a period of stability would seem in order.
Alphington got through three captains last season as Luke Phillips started the season as skipper before leaving for Honiton, Matt Taylor caretakered the role mid-season and Will Pring, Tom Weeks and Mark Halse all filled in from July onwards.
Bogue, who started his career with Plympton as a youngster, has the captaincy experience in lower-division cricket the fledgling club needs.
Two things the new club does not have any worries about now are player numbers and where they are going to play?
Said Bogue: “We have had issues about using our ground at Winslade Park for some years and last season they came to a head.
“Alphington have been struggling for players and it got so difficult last year they lost their 2ndXI.
“Our two clubs have been working together at youth level very successfully for three or four years and it was obvious the time was right to bring the clubs together all the way through.
“Both clubs had meetings, support was overwhelming and from this year we go forward as one club looking forward to a bright, new future.”
Alphington’s 1stXI were relegated from the C Division East at the end of last season. Bogue will lead them in the D Division East this summer.
Countess Wear 1stXI operated in the E Division East last season. Their second team finished bottom of the H Division East, which is the lowest division in the league.
League chiefs felt it was unwise to have the new club operating in adjoining divisions – D and E East – as there could be complications due to promotions or relegations theoretically putting both in the same division, which is not allowed.
The compromise agreed with the new club was for the re-branded second team to play in the G Division East this season. Countess Wear’s former 2ndXI no longer exists.
“Although it looks like we have stopped offering cricket to players at a lower level, that is not really the case,” said Bogue.
“Alphington had to get players out of retirement to field a first team at times last year and our second team did not have enough players to fulfil all its fixtures.
“Thanks to the hard work put in by Mark Burnard and Steve Baxter running the combined youth section, we have youngsters starting to come through into senior cricket.
“The divisions we have been placed in mean we will be able to field competitive teams at both levels and give our young players the chances they need.”
Alphington and Countess Wear start pre-season nets indoors at Exeter School on Sunday, February 23. Further details from Will Pring on 07855 161301.